University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Administrative Appointment: Abby Gearhart

April 29, 2024

Dear UPJ Community,

Re: Announcing the Appointment of Abby Gearhart as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Athletics (Interim)

I am pleased to appoint Ms. Abby Gearhart as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Athletics (Interim). For nearly a decade (with a break in between as a schoolteacher), Ms. Gearhart has served in various administrative roles, demonstrating the highest level of excellence and dedication, as well as an indefatigable work ethic and exuberant Mountain Cat enthusiasm.

Currently serving as the Director for Athletics Compliance and Associate Athletics Director, Ms. Gearhart plays a key role in NCAA reporting, budgeting, sports oversight, personnel, and game day management. She demonstrated great leadership in helping to guide UPJ’s successful admission into the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) - a milestone moment in the history of our Mountain Cat program. She has led efforts to enhance staffing and improve operational effectiveness. She has also provided leadership for student-athlete recruitment, resulting in a 32% increase - with student-athletes now constituting 20% of enrollment.

A highly effective leader across Campus, Ms. Gearhart has worked diligently to achieve greater coordination between athletics and other units. She collaborates with the Faculty Athletic Representative as she monitors athletes’ academic progress and performance. In support of student-athlete success (including through the study halls she hosts), her leadership has helped to produce a 20% decrease in the number of ineligible student-athletes annually and a 24% increase in athletes on the Dean’s List over the last year. Furthermore, she collaborates with Student Affairs in hosting numerous clubs and activities and serves as an advisor to several student organizations including Habitat for Humanity. Ms. Gearhart also served as a Vice Chair in the most recent strategic planning process, working very closely with senior Campus leaders. An enthusiastic champion of UPJ, her leadership engagement with the development team has resulted in the identification of over 500 ‘unknown’ alumni, thereby strengthening our fundraising capacity.

Highly focused on building stronger ties with our surrounding communities, Ms. Gearhart has led efforts to develop and implement transformational programs such as Winterfest, Trunk or Treat, and sports camps that have brought hundreds of people to campus.

Abby Gearhart earned a BS in Secondary Mathematics Education and Applied Mathematics at UPJ and completed an M. Ed in Higher Educational Administration at Pitt. After graduating, she worked in our Admissions Office as a Counselor and served as a liaison between Admissions and Alumni Relations. Subsequently, she worked as an Area Coordinator in Housing & Residence Life where she trained Res Life staff, among other duties. A record-setting volleyball athlete during her student years, she served as a volunteer coach for the Pitt-Johnstown Women’s Volleyball Program in 2010. Her service on the NCAA PSAC Volleyball Committee has also earned her several commendations and recognitions.

Please join me in congratulating our outstanding colleague, Abby Gearhart, as she assumes this new position.

Jem Spectar, PhD, JD, MBA, MA, MAP